Five keys to the Notre Dame-Georgia game

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune


Any Notre Dame possession will feature a strength-on-strength matchup. Notre Dame’s offensive line will be asked to bear the weight of Georgia’s talented front seven. Many of the combatants on either side will be playing in the NFL soon. Can Irish left tackle Mike McGlinchey and left guard Quenton Nelson set the tone? Will defensive tackle Trenton Thompson and linebacker Lorenzo Carter cause headaches for Notre Dame’s offense? The winner of these matchups likely dictates who walks away with a victory.


The numbers 27 and 1 should be seared into the vision of Notre Dame’s defense. Stopping running backs Nick Chubb (27) and Sony Michel (1) will be the top priority for the Irish. The dynamic duo combined for 1,970 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns last season. They’ll be asked to take the pressure off freshman quarterback Jake Fromm in his first career start. Containing Chubb and Michel, and forcing Fromm to throw in obvious passing situations should spell success for Notre Dame.


Head coach Brian Kelly said he wasn’t concerned after Justin Yoon missed two field goals in Notre Dame’s opener against Temple. That’s easy to say after a 49-16 victory. But in Yoon’s last two public appearances in Notre Dame Stadium — last weekend’s season opener and the open scrimmage in August — he’s missed attempts from 44, 47, 49 and 54 yards. His one make came from 23 yards out. In what should be a close game against Georgia, the Irish can’t afford to leave points on the field.


Calling any part of Georgia’s defense a weakness might not be accurate. But if there’s any chance to exploit the Bulldogs, it might be in their secondary. Cornerback Malkom Parrish isn’t expected to play with a foot injury, and cornerback Aaron Davis has been limited with a hamstring injury in practice all week. A lot of experience leaves the field in their absence. If Notre Dame can find an enviable matchup with Georgia’s secondary, it needs to capitalize with big plays in the passing game.


We get it. A lot of passionate Georgia fans are going to be in Notre Dame Stadium. A lot of Texas fans made the trip in 2015 too. The burnt orange was noticeable, but the volume didn’t last long. That’s because the Irish pounded the Longhorns. It’s hard to imagine a similar lopsided result Saturday, but Notre Dame can keep the noise from fans in red and black bearable with an early lead.


Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Notre Dame’s Justin Yoon (19) kicks for an extra point as Montgomery VanGorder (4) holds during the Notre Dame-Temple NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend. Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN